Hartnett Holder & Co was born with a simple vision to make the space feel more fun dining than fine dining. A friendship which initially formed over a shared love of simple and delicious food, Angela and Luke came together to create a restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously but takes it seriously enough.
Since opening the doors in 2013, thousands of guests have tucked into many of HH&Co's classic Italian-influenced dishes, launched a cookery school in the 'Backstage' kitchen, entertained many at the Kitchen Table during intimate dinner parties, hosted pop-up events with the likes of Tom Kerridge, Rick Stein and Mark Hix and not forgetting scooping up a few awards along the way.
A whole decade of HH&Co... How did that happen? Well, they do say time flies when you are having fun!
Looking back, first impressions, proudest moments, and future plans… we sat down with Luke and Angela for a 10-year Q&A…
- So, how did it all begin?
Angela: Robin deciding that we needed to shake up the restaurant at Lime Wood and a mutual friend of ours said to speak to Angela and they did. The rest is history!
- How did the identity of HH&Co come about / what was the vision 10 years ago?
Luke: To make the space feel more fun dining not fine dining. We had a lot of haute couture stuff going on with the menu and I actually think reflecting the good humour of Angela and myself and creating a restaurant that doesn’t take itself too seriously but takes it seriously enough. To deliver quality food but without all the stiffness.
- How and why did you change the typical fine dining experience of country house hotels?
Angela: It was just moving with the times, recognising that- our guests are changing, and want to be able to go to a hotel and stay more than one night, so you need a menu that tells that and doesn’t dictate to people.
Luke: The dining experience back in the day was set up as a 2 or 3-hour dining experience, some country house hotels can lack atmosphere whereas, we wanted somewhere that felt energised and by removing the table cloths and the white, traditional, presentation plates the space instantly became more accessible.
- How did your partnership start and how has it developed over the last 10 years?
Angela: Our relationship started over a long lunch in London, and Luke realised I was chaotic from the moment he met me; he was an hour early and I was 40 minutes late! But we both realised that we liked the same simple, delicious food. It’s never been a case of teaching Luke how to cook, I learn more from him in that respect, it’s about managing and developing the restaurant as a bigger picture – a dining offering that has the strength, confidence and belief in itself without superfluous garnish.
- Three words or a sentence each to describe your working relationship now.
Both: Honest, fun, professional
- Can you expand on the collaborative element of your working relationship - any examples?
Luke: It is more than just the plate of food in front of you, it’s the ambience, it’s the culture, it's the atmosphere and it’s the approach and I think that’s the thing I’ve learnt the most from Angela, it isn’t the consistency of a puree or what two things go together, it’s a broader aspect of how does that menu feel, what is the scope of the offering and is it approachable. I think more than just what we are producing on the plate, a restaurant will reflect how staff feel and that will draw people in. If we have a stiff, militant atmosphere in the kitchen, and in front of house it’s going to put people off.
Angela: I think as well it is a sounding board, a challenge, Luke will come up with things and I will play devil's advocate so that he formulates a dish and makes sure it’s the idea he wants.
- What have been your greatest achievement of the last 10 years in relation to HH&Co?
Angela: Keeping HH&Co as one of the top hotel restaurants in the country
Luke: Absolutely, and making it a relevant space.
- What is your proudest sustainable initiative?
Angela: The people, people are sustainable, the fact that some staff have been here for over ten years.
Luke: Changing kitchen culture.
- What is your favourite memory from the last 10 years?
Angela: So many! Cooking a fruit pizza makes me cry with laughter, that’s all I’ll say!
Luke: When I first met Angela definitely. There are many great memories including going to the Chelsea Flower Show together, the Lime Wood 10-year anniversary was really fun, there’s lots.
- Can you describe what HH&Co / Lime Wood personally means to you?
Angela: It is a fun dining room, accessible to all. Lime Wood personally means some great friendships and relationships.
Luke: It has had a fundamental impact on my life, my family, you put your heart and soul into them, and they become part of your life. When things have changed in 20 years’ time, you’ll never be able to drive through the forest without thinking of Lime Wood.
Celebrate 10 years with us, by tucking into our iconic 10-year lunch menu available to book from May 22nd– book here!
Book using code HH10YEARS